Crisis Regarding Christ

© by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.,  2017

Some years ago a preacher visited my church. After the Sunday School class, during which I was teaching on various “Christian” cults, he said, “In my church we have no creed but Christ.” I responded, “Which Christ? The one of the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the word-faith movement, or of the ancient creeds?” Today we have a crisis regarding Christ because we no longer value truth.

The historic Church has always assumed that there was truth and error, not just opinions. It was zealous to maintain the truth about the Son as revealed in Holy Scripture. It was not tolerant (the politically correct word today) of error concerning Christ, though they could be tolerant of other things. It came together on several occasions in ecumenical councils to proclaim the Gospel, the truth about Christ, writing doctrinal statements that were considered binding on all Christians. We have creeds that summarize those councils, such as the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. (The Athanasian Creed is my favorite.)

The Church realized that faith was only as good as its object, and the object of faith (Christ) only as good as the content about Him. And from that day to now, those councils, especially the Council of Chalcedon, have been considered by all branches of Christendom—Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodoxy—to be the epitome of orthodoxy regarding the person of Christ. During the greatest revival in the history of the Church, the Reformation, the Reformers did not challenge Chalcedon’s teaching that Christ was fully God, fully man yet sinless, one person, and no mixture of the two natures of divinity and humanity (John 1:1-3, 14; 5:28; 10:30; Col. 1:15ff; 2:9; Heb. 1:1ff; etc). That was bedrock.

Unfortunately, today is different. The ambiance of this age is ripe for heresy since personal opinion is considered to be more important than truth, especially truth from the past. The Church has become obsessed with making people feel comfortable, not with truth. (Indeed, some preachers build large congregations by not preaching on sin or other “controversial” matters.) The Church has devolved into a radical egalitarianism, and truth has been reduced to its lowest common denominator. Now each individual—with or without his Bible—will decide for himself what truth is.

In contrast to the heresies, the early fathers understood that Christology was at the heart of redemption, that who Christ was determined whether man was redeemed or not. Their constant watchword was “what is not assumed [in the incarnation] is not redeemed.” Thus, if Christ had not assumed full humanity (sin excepted), we would have no redemption.

This worked the other way also. The early Church fathers recognized that if Christ had not been fully God and functioning fully as God (contra word-faith leaders who deny that the Son of God used His divine attributes on earth), there could be no reconciliation of God and man, Christ would have had no infinite merit to what He had done, but only the work of a man. At the Council of Ephesus, therefore, the fathers clearly stated in A.D. 431: “If any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Spirit, so that He used through Him a power not His own and from Him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men and shall not rather confess that it was His own Spirit through which He worked these divine signs; let him be anathema” (emphasis added).

Anything less than one who functioned fully as man and fully as God in one Person could not die for our sins. He had to be man to die. He had to be God to give infinite value to His work. He had to be one person to bring God and man together, bringing the acts of God and man together as one act. The two natures of God and man could not be mingled, making Him less than God or more than man. If Christ had not been God or had not functioned as God while on earth, we would have the acts of a man and of the Holy Spirit through Him—separate acts of two persons—but that would have been no different than the prophets of old who had the Holy Spirit in them. No, Christ functioned fully as man and as God in one person, thus uniting His work of redemption as one work of the God-man.

Today we have many heresies. There are those who deny the deity of Christ altogether. There are others who deny that the Son functioned as God while on earth. Indeed, in the word-faith teaching, man can be a god and create his/her own providence by audible words. In the separation of God and man in Christ, there is no reconciliation of man with God since there is no real union of God and man in one person. Thus, salvation is eliminated. If Christ is only a creature, or only functioned as a creature, God is not revealed, but a wholly unknown being. Thus, God is eliminated.

If there was ever a need for a second Reformation, it is today, and this Reformation must begin where the first one did: with the Church’s stand for truth and with the Christ of the Councils and of the Bible. We must not invent a new “Jesus” for each succeeding generation, but proclaim the old, revealed Jesus, who never changes (Heb. 13:8). The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church that proclaims Christ as the Son of God! AMEN. Ω

Crucified under Pontius Pilate

© Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., 2013

What is different about Christianity from all other religions? It is based in history with real persons, real events, real cities, countries, and actual eyewitnesses. The Apostles’ Creed speaks of the Lord Jesus as One who “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” Why is that important? It shows that Christianity is rooted in things that actually happened, and is not made up from imagination, as all false religions are.

Buddhism is basically an atheistic philosophy with little to no roots in actual events. One even wonders if the Buddha existed, and it really does not matter, for the system is just an idea. So if he never existed, it would not affect Buddhism.

Likewise, in Hinduism, which began about 4,000 years ago in India, we have another philosophy of life that makes little difference if real historical events occurred.

There are three religions that claim some historical connection: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and all three are monotheistic (one God). The first two are connected as bud to flower, and Islam is a conglomeration of some Judaism, some Christianity, more paganism, and a lot of imagination.

So, we say that Christ was crucified by Pontius Pilate, and we could add, in Jerusalem around A. D. 30, but how historical is that? We know from Roman records that Pilate was in the Roman military, had served well. We know from archaeology that Pilate minted coins in Jerusalem with “Tiberius Caesar” on them from A.D. 29-31. Moreover, Pilate dedicated a monument to his Caesar with these words:

“To the Divine Augusti [this] Tiberieum

…Pontius Pilate

…prefect of Judea

…has dedicated” [ rest of words not there]

A secular writer named Thallos discussed in A.D. 59 how there could have been darkness during the time of the crucifixion when the moon and sun were not in the correct positions. Moreover, Jesus’ tomb had a heavy stone rolled in front of it. There was a Roman seal, like the police tape we see today, and Roman soldiers guarded the tomb. There was never a discussion whether the tomb was empty, but only how it got that way.

Moreover, the Jewish historian, Josephus (A.D. 56-120), discussed in his Antiquities, the stoning of James “the brother of Jesus who is called Christ,” which is another historical event that matches the New Testament.

Jesus prophesied that Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed in the life time of those to whom He was speaking at the time (about A.D. 30), and in A.D. 70, the Roman general Titus destroyed them, which is a well known fact of history, even by the secularists.

Unlike Mormonism and Islam where one must take the word of one man and allegedly one angel (Mormonism, Joseph Smith, and angel the Morini; Islam, Mohammed and Gabriel. In Christianity we have hundreds of eyewitnesses and hundreds of dates, artifacts, real persons, real history, and so on. In other words, we are not dependent on the word of one man or one alleged angel no one else saw, but we are thoroughly rooted in history. Take away the bodily resurrection of Christ, and Christianity crumbles. Take away the Buddha, and nothing would change.

So how do we know that the supernatural events, like Jesus’ bodily resurrection, are true? We know because of the natural events that are not only recorded in the New Testament by multiple eyewitnesses but also because of validation outside the New Testament in Roman documents, historical artifacts, Roman historians, and even one Jewish historian, Josephus, and so on.

Yes, Christianity is unique. One would have to rewrite history to destroy the Christian Church and Christianity. AMEN.

Reformed Episcopal Church Statement

 


Adopted by General Council, May 28, 1993; revised April 18, 1998:

Built upon the foundation of the authoritative Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, the Reformed Episcopal Church sets her highest priority on Biblical worship, and declares her commitment to the work of evangelism, the bold and unadulterated proclamation of salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 8:4).

In keeping the faith once delivered to the saints, the Reformed Episcopal Church, however, does not believe evangelism to be the end, but rather the beginning of her divinely given vocation.

Thus, she is deeply committed to discipleship, the work of training evangelized men and women in Christian living (St. Matthew 28:20). When the Gospel is truly proclaimed and the mercies of God are made known, the redeemed must be led to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice, which is their spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).

Thus, the Reformed Episcopal Church understands the Christian life to be necessarily corporate. The Gospel call of salvation is not only to a Savior, but also to a visible communion of those who have been saved (I Corinthians 12:27), which communion, being indwelt by Christ’s Spirit, transcends both temporal and geographic bounds.

Therefore, the Reformed Episcopal Church is creedal, following the historic Christian faith as it was affirmed by the early undivided Church in the Apostles’ Creed (A.D. 150) and Nicene Creed (A.D. 325); sacramental, practicing the divinely ordained sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as outward and visible signs of His inward and spiritual grace; confessional, accepting the doctrines and practices of the English Reformation as found in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion; and episcopal, finding unity with the Church of the earliest Christian eras through submission to the government of godly Bishops.

In this fashion, by embracing the broad base of doctrine and practice inherent in the historic Church of the Reformation, the Reformed Episcopal Church has a foundation for effective ministry in the name of Christ to a world which is lost and dying without him.